Friday, May 5, 2006
$150K override for schools passes easily
Although nearly 70% of Carlisle's annual expenditures go to support its three schools: the Carlisle Public Elementary and Middle Schools (CPS), Concord-Carlisle Regional High School (CCHS), and Minuteman Regional High School (MMRHS), the Town Meeting on Monday evening passed all school budget requests, including an override to provide additional funding for CPS and CCHS, with virtually no questions and no discussion.
The "balanced" or "levy-limit" budgets for the three schools, which required no override of Proposition 2-1/2, were lumped into the massive Article 6 which defined the Fiscal Year 2007 operating budget for the Town of Carlisle. Town Moderator Tom Raftery asked for questions on the education line items and heard none, although only those who had read the Warrant and prepared questions in advance would have had time to respond. The Article, which included a 1.9% increase over current school budgets, passed easily on a voice vote.
The balanced budget for the Carlisle Public Schools provides for a 5.5% contractual increase in teacher salaries, an additional cost of hiring two new principals, and an English Language Learner tutor which is now required by the state. Other increasing costs include the new school bus contract, operation of the new school wastewater treatment plant and the cost of fuel and electricity.
The CCHS budget under Article 6 is $18,909,497, of which $4,328,209, or 27.08%, is Carlisle's share. Carlisle's assessment is based on the number of Carlisle students at the school in the preceding year. Since the assessment ratio dropped slightly in 2005-06, the cost to Carlisle is below that in FY06. The budget includes increases in salaries, health insurance, Special Education out-placement tuition, energy, additional hours for technology support, a music teacher, and the STEP Program which helps a small number of disadvantaged students.
Minuteman Regional High School, located in Lexington, provides an alternative for Carlisle students wishing a technical education. Although the average cost per Carlisle pupil will rise by 21% next year, a reduction in the number of Carlisle students means Carlisle's FY07 assessment will fall below FY06.
Override for CPS and CCHS
In order to fund the budgets recommended by the Regional School Committee (RSC), and the Concord and Carlisle Selectmen and FinComs, Article 9 asked the town to provide an additional $150,766, consisting of $75,000 for CPS and $75,766 for CCHS.
Again, there was no discussion of the additional budget items, except for an unsuccessful motion from the floor to eliminate the CCHS portion from Article 9 (See "Two-night Town Meeting approves all articles" on page 1.)
The override passed on a voice vote with very few "no's" heard in the auditorium. The override amount must also be approved by voters at the Town Election on May 9.
Although the Regional School Committee is working on a proposal for extensive renovations to CCHS facilities, some improvements, especially those needed for health and safety, must be done now, said Fitzgerald. Article 11 asked for $1,200,000 in capital improvements to CCHS, 27.08% of which is Carlisle's portion. The improvements include a new intercom system, repair or replacement of 70 fire doors, improvements to safety systems in the science labs, better ventilation in the art and photo rooms, installation and housing of an emergency generator and energy-efficient lighting fixtures.
Fitzgerald estimated that the impact of this amount will be 0.3%, or about $30 on the real estate taxes for a house assessed at $626,000 in FY06. The amount for CCHS improvements must also pass at the ballot next Tuesday, May 9.
CPS boiler replacement
"Creative maintenance has maintained the boiler beyond its shelf life," said Fitzgerald. Article 12 requested $450,000 for the replacement of the Carlisle School boilers, which are expected to provide significant savings in heating costs. The estimated payback period for the new boilers is between 10 and 13 years.
The Article passed. The amount for the CPS boilers must also pass at the ballot.
and the levy limit
Proposition 2-1/2 is a state law which limits the amount of real estate taxes a town can raise each year without an override. An override is added to the levy limit base for the following year, enabling the town to raise additional funds next year under Proposition 2-1/2. Consequently, if the override passes at the Town Election next Tuesday, the levy limit will increase by $150,766. Articles 11 and 12 are debt exclusions, which are temporary tax increases. The amounts approved under these Articles will not become part of the levy limit.
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